Portland Center Stage at The Armory debuts its new Northwest Stories series with Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, a play inspired by the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle native who was posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Hold These Truths begins previews tonight in the Ellyn Bye Studio, with an official opening on Friday, October 7, and will run through Sunday, November 13.
Hold These Truths will be directed by Jessica Kubzansky, who directed the world premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles. Actor Ryun Yu, who originated the role of Hirabayashi at East West Players, will once again play the role in Portland.
The creative team includes Ben Zamora (Scenic and Lighting Designer), John Zalewski (Sound Designer and Original Music), Soojin Lee (Original Costume Designs), Kelsey Daye Lutz (Performance Stage Manager), Alyssa Escalante (Rehearsal Stage Manager) and Kristen Mun (Production Assistant).
During World War II, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi fights the government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he struggles to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Hirabayashi journeys toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs – and a confrontation with its failures.
Hold These Truths was first produced in 2007 by East West Players in Los Angeles under the title Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi. Since the critically acclaimed world premiere, director Jessica Kubzansky and actor Ryun Yu have partnered on several productions of Hold These Truths, most recently at Act Theatre in Seattle, where Seattle Weekly said the play, “Stunningly shines a light on a shameful chapter of Northwest (and national) history … At its heart, Hold These Truths is an excellent exploration of being a patriot precisely when it’s most unpopular.”
Regular tickets start at $25. Tickets may be purchased at www.pcs.org, 503.445.3700, or in-person at the box office (128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, OR). Students and patrons who are 30 or younger can purchase $30 tickets (available for all dates/times). Rush tickets are $20. Groups of 10+ save 25% off adult tickets. Recipients of Oregon Trail Card benefits can purchase $5 tickets. Showtimes are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. (excluding October 16 and October 30, and November 1, 8 and 13);Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. (excluding October 1, 2, 8, 22, and November 5); and Thursday matinees at noon (excluding October 6 and October 10). Recommended for ages 14+; contains mature language.
This production marks Ryun Yu’s debut at The Armory. Ryun originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi in the 2007 world premiere of Hold These Truths (under the title Dawn’s Light) at East West Players in Los Angeles, and most recently performed the role for Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Ryun has twice collaborated with David Henry Hwang, playing Mark in the film adaptation of Hwang’s play Bondage, and starring as the fictional David Henry Hwang in the playwright’s Yellow Face in the first adaptation of a major theatrical play for YouTube. In 2015, Ryun originated the lead role of Takeshi in the world premiere of Kimber Lee’s Tokyo Fish Story at South Coast Repertory. Other theater credits include the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out at Geffen Playhouse; Philip Kan Gotanda’s Sisters Matsumoto at Seattle Repertory Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company; the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre; Art and the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive at East West Players; and Sea Change at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Ryun co-wrote, co-produced, directed and stars in the upcoming feature film The Last Tour, and has also appeared in the films Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon and The Mikado Project. TV appearances include Fuller House, Bones, Good Luck Charlie and Castle. He was the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and also has the first theater degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ryun would like to dedicate this performance to his son, Kenji, and his daughter, Miyako.
Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths was recently included by audience demand in Seattle’s ACT Theatre 2015 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season following four sold-out performances in the ACT Lab. In 2016, in addition to its Portland Center Stage run, the play is also being produced at Perseverance Theatre and the Guthrie Theater. Premiering at LA’s East West Players in 2007 starring Ryun Yu and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, Hold These Truths had its off-Broadway debut with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance) and has since been performed at PlayMakers Repertory, People’s Light & Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (co-produced with Daniel Dae Kim), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park, and Coachella Valley Rep. Jeanne is also an acclaimed actor who has performed with the Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Kennedy Center, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, the Intiman, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, ACT San Francisco, Berkeley Rep, and People’s Light & Theatre. Screen credits include the internationally acclaimed indie film Advantageous (US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, 2015 Sundance Film Festival) and guest appearances on BRAVO’S True Fiction, Dr. Ken, NCIS Los Angeles, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Famil, John Ridley’s I Got You, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries. Special honors: LA Ovation Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, Red at EWP; 2016 Lee Melville Award, Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, LA Asian Pacific American Friends of Theatre; establishment of the Jeanne Sakata Collection, Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection. www.jeannesakata.com, www.holdthesetruths.info www.facebook.com/holdthesetruths
Jessica Kubzansky (Director) is the co-artistic director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena and an award-winning director working nationally. She is delighted to be back at The Armory, where she last directed James Still’s James Beard play, I Love to Eat. She developed and directed the world premiere of Hold These Truths with Jeanne and Ryun at East West Players and elsewhere, including Chicago’s Silk Road Rising and Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Other recent work includes: Stupid F**king Bird (ACT Theatre, Seattle); Luis Alfaro’s Mojada, A Medea in Los Angeles (The Theatre @ Boston Court/Getty Villa); Pygmalion (Pasadena Playhouse); RII, her own three-person Richard II (The Theatre @ Boston Court);The 39 Steps (La Mirada Theatre); Macbeth (Antaeus Theatre Company); and Hamlet with Leo Marks (Theater 150). Kubzansky does a great deal of new work, including the recent New York premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch (Rattlestick at The Cherry Lane) and the world premieres of Stefanie Zadravec’s Colony Collapse, EYT, Michael Elyanow’s The Children, Jordan Harrison’s Futura, Laura Schellhardt’s Courting Vampires, Salamone/McIntyre’s Gulls, Mickey Birnbaum’s Bleed Rail, Carlos Murillo’s Unfinished American Highwayscape…, Van Itallie’s Light, Cody Henderson’s Cold/Tender (all at The Theatre @ Boston Court), among many others. Kubzansky received the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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